I had the pleasure of attending a webinar given by the American Optometric Association last night about myopia management. Did you know that the rapid increase of myopia is a GLOBAL EPIDEMIC?!

The first question you may be asking yourself is…what is myopia? You may know myopia as being nearsighted or having difficulty seeing clearly far away. But it’s important to remember that it is a chronic and progressive disease.

You may have heard that there is an alarming rise in myopia since the invention of handheld screens-smartphones and tablets. It’s true, and it’s estimated that approximately 50% of the world’s population will be myopic by 2050.

Besides having blurred eyesight and needing to be dependent on glasses, myopia increases your risk of retinal damage, including macular degeneration and retinal detachments, glaucoma, and cataracts.

We’ve all heard about the negative effects of the increasingly prevalent sedentary lifestyle many of us are living. We know the negative effects of increased screen time on our mental and physical health. Not surprisingly, these things are having negative effects on our visual health as well.

I know that many of you are nodding your head-it makes sense. We all know that it is common sense that we should turn off our electronics and spend time outside in the fresh air, getting some exercise and physical “play” every day. But we all know, common sense is often not common practice.

What can be done? A LOT!

#1) Go outside. Multiple studies have shown that those who spend two hours or more outside everyday have a MUCH lower chance of developing myopia.

#2) Limit time focusing at near (including screens). Remember that 20/20/20 rule we’re always talking about? For every 20 minutes focusing at near, take 20 seconds and look 20 feet or further away? If you’re one of my patients who has eyestrain, in addition to the 20/20/20 rule, I may have bugged you about the 3Ws-Walk, Water, Window. I learned this from Jay Shetty and think it applies to the patients I see…. Every 50-55 minutes-stand up, walk around, drink water, and look out the window for 5 minutes. Our bodies are not meant to sit down and look at screens for hours.

#3) Eat a good diet. You are what you eat. Make sure you and your kids are eating a healthy diet and staying hydrated with water and limiting caffeinated drinks and sugary juices and drinks. Also eat a balanced diet including foods that are rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Lutein, and omega 3 fatty acids.

#4) Don’t smoke and don’t hang around smokers. There are studies showing an increased rate of myopia in children who are exposed to second-hand smoke.

#5) Make sure you are getting eye examinations and not relying on screenings. Dr. Zeller and I can help you or your child with unique myopia control options that we have available or refer to specialists that we trust will be able to help you or your child. Many of our patients have vision problems that are causing blurring vision at distance that can be treated with vision therapy!

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